The EU's parliaments need to develop much deeper collaboration mechanisms to keep control of the Europeanisation of decision making and ensure that EU and national budgets are used more effectively, said MEPs and MPs at the closing session of the Parliamentary week on the European Semester on Wedneseday. Participants also stressed the futility of treating parliaments as competitors and stressed the need to act to cut catastrophic unemployment across the EU.
Addressing the closing session, the chairs of the committees most involved, Sharon Bowles (ALDE, UK) for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR) for the Budgets Committee and Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR) for the Employment Committee, summed up the sector-specific work that their committees had done with national MPs on Tuesday.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso stressed the need to ensure maximum democratic scrutiny at whichever level power is exercised. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy urged parliaments not to see themselves as rivals, a message echoed by many others present.
The European Semester is changing who sets economic priorities and how they are decided, said EP Vice-President Anni Podimata (S&D, EL). These changes are widening the democratic deficit, which makes it all the more necessary to devise a new parliamentary means of exercising enhanced control, she added.
Irish Parliament Speaker Sean Barrett noted that national parliaments are currently ill-equipped to scrutinise EU policy making. If an MEP is not a member of an EU affairs committee, he or she would find it very hard to follow what is happening at EU level, he added.
Many MPs echoed this view in various ways, some highlighting how rarely the EU makes it onto national parliamentary agendas and others criticising the European Council for acting so opaquely as to escape any possible parliamentary scrutiny.
Work will continue in various fora over the coming months to develop mechanisms to enable parliaments to get involved in, and excercise control over, the economic coordination mechanisms being put in place at EU level.